Hearts that Believe God, Please God
WHAT IT MEANS:
We begin where we left off, with remembering that Jesus Christ was not simply a servant of the house of God as Moses was. Jesus has inherited the house and is sovereign over it. Just as anyone who inherits a house becomes the new owner, Jesus is the Master of the house of God.
"House" meaning all the occupants and we are the occupants of His house. We are the "house of God" by the grace of the Father. Jesus has redeemed us from hell and let us into His house.
We shall continue to be His house if we continue to hold fast to Him with firm enduring confidence. Confidence that He is the Son of God, and rejoicing that He has redeemed us, and hope that we shall one day live with Him in heaven. Confidence that He hears our prayers!!
This is a quotation from Psalm 95 verses 6 through 11. Notice that the writer of Hebrews refers to the scripture "as the Holy Ghost saith." We know this Psalm was written by David, but clearly this reiterates that all scripture comes from God, who is the Holy Ghost. David wrote what the Spirit of God impressed upon him to write.
"To day if ye will hear his voice," -- Today is always this very day. When it was written and when it is read, it is always "today."
Then we see the big little word "if." "If" and "then" often travel together to create a contingency. The contingency we are reading is based upon hearing, but not only the hearing, it is also based on the "will." I like to read it like this: "if ye will", and then I read "hear his voice" because it changes the emphasis. It points out the questions: "Will you hear?" "Will you listen?"
To what? His voice. Plain and simple. Are you willing to hear the voice of God speaking to you, personally, in scripture and in prayer?
The "then" of the "if/then" contingency is implied. It does not change the meaning even one iota to insert the word "then" at this point: "Then," "harden not your hearts."
If you want to hear the voice of God, then do not harden your self against Him. A hardened heart is a prideful heart. A stoney heart has turned off its ears and fortified itself against Him. A stoney wall has gone up. We can limit God's influence on us and our lives by our own unbelief -- as it says in:
Psalm 78:40 ¶ How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, And grieved Him in the desert!
41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy,
43 When He worked His signs in Egypt, And His wonders in the field of Zoan;
A hard hearts puts limits on what God can do for it. It does not believe God is Good or will do good for them, personally. A heart could be hardened by bitterness, or unforgiveness, or simply by arrogance and pride, but a hard heart is not willing to hear the Lord speaking to it. It refuses to believe God. It refuses to believe there is anything of worth in knowing God. In fact a hardened heart prefers to judge God. Since God is the actual Judge a hardened heart has placed itself on the throne.
A hard heart prefers to decide for itself whether or not God exists, and refuses to listen for Him, so when it does not hear Him speaking, it believes He does not exist. Did you notice that? The hard heart makes a decision, acts on it, then believes it. Rather than believe God, a hard heart believes itself and is mislead as a result.
Those who have a soft heart for the Lord, will hear Him speaking to them. A soft heart is a heart that believes in God. It is a heart of love, of peace, of patience, and of trust. If you soften your heart towards God then you will hear Him speaking to you.
God speaks but we must incline our ears to hear Him speaking or we simply are unaware of His speaking. He speaks in His scriptures. Do you read them? He speaks in our spirits. Are you listening? He speaks in His creation. Have you noticed it? So in the command "harden not your hearts" is also the implied command to "soften your hearts, look for Him and listen to Him."
Provocation means: irritation. In Numbers 14:11 we read:
God had shown them great signs, great wonders and they did not believe in Him in their hearts. They allowed themselves to grow weary and untrusting. They forgot God as they focused on their trials and on themselves. This thing, we are also apt to do. Do you recall a time when God did a great miracle in your life? He is still the Miracle Making God, today. Do not allow yourself to forget. Cultivate a heart of gratitude: Jesus said when we drink the cup and eat the bread, "Do this in remembrance of Me."
"The day of temptation" refers to the people tempting God, as it says in our Hebrews study:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
His rest. A believing heart is a place of rest and tranquility created by God -- inside of us. Where we err is always in the heart. God wants our hearts and it grieves Him when we simply choose to ignore Him and go our own way. God wants us to know His ways. He showed the Isrealites His works for the next forty years: they ate manna every day, their shoes never wore out, they had water and all that they needed -- and the younger people believed. Too bad for the old folks who had refused to trust Him.
When we take the time and put in the effort to learn what God's "ways" are, we find that He keeps His promises. When we look for His works we see them plainly. He always loves and protects those who follow Him. He is gracious and kind and just. When we become familiar with how God really acts in many situations, how He never changes, and never leaves us and never forsakes us, we begin to have a soft heart for Him. We begin to desire Him. That is all He wants: our hearts trusting and desiring Him. (Note: for wonderful teachings on this subject, read, "The Attributes of God," Vols I and II, by A. W. Tozer,)
The adults had refused to go into the Promised Land because they were afraid of what they had seen there. They had investigated and had perceived the people who lived there as if they were unconquerable "giants." By comparison they thought that they, themselves, were "grasshoppers" in the sight of the giants -- but they were looking through their own eyes and seeing how little they were. They were not looking at God and how Big He Is. They thought they would surely lose the battle and got frightened and fearful of the giants. By fearing them, instead of fearing God, they lost out. They were depending on their own strength and not God's promise and His strength. (Remember David and Goliath? The giant did not win on that day, and the Lord would have saved the people from the land of giants, too. But they did not even give Him a chance -- they limited Him.)
When they refused to go in, God refused to let them in. Only Caleb and Joshua had enough heart and faith to speak for the Lord who had parted the Red Sea for them to cross on dry land, then led them in the wilderness with a column of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Can you imagine seeing that every day, and witnessing that God had made a way for you through an impossible situation, and not trusting that God would go before you and fulfill His promise to you of making another way for you?
Their refusal to enter the Promised Land revealed their short memories, their self centered hearts, and their lack of faith in Him. Here is a question: Do we do the same thing?
They were really irritating to God. So He refused to let them "enter into my rest" meaning the Promised Land. Forty years later, Joshua and Caleb were the only two of that generation who ever set foot in the Promised Land, again. Even Moses did not go in because of his own later sin. God allowed him to see it just before he died, but Moses did not go in.
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Take heed means to pay attention to what you are doing. The writer is speaking to his Christian brothers and sisters. Do not let an "evil heart of unbelief" move into your life. I think this description of "unbelief" is really quite amazing. He is saying that unbelief comes from an evil heart. A heart that is in a bad condition becomes evil when it ceases to believe in God. We might let it happen from too many annoyances and hardships if we take our eyes off of God and His goodness or His promises. I once heard it said that the opposite of joy is unbelief. How true.
Notice also that the description of how "unbelief" acts, is stated in the last phrase: "in departing from the living God." The only way a person could leave God behind is through unbelief -- and unbelief comes from a forgetful, wayward, and wicked heart. As Christians we need to take heed that this does not happen to us. We need to continue to nurture our own continuing belief in Jesus Christ. We also need to support our brothers and sisters in doing the same, as it says in the following:
Each day. This very day, we need to exhort our fellow Christians to continue to believe. The root word for "exhort" was translated this many different ways in the KJV of the Bible:
AV-beseech 43, comfort 23, exhort 21, desire 8, pray 6, intreat 3, misc 4, besought 1; 109
-- meaning that of the 109 times the original Greek word showed up in the original writting, it was translated into different English words the number of times listed next to each word.
It rather surprised me to find that we can "exhort" our Christian friends and family by offering comfort in times of distress, and most especially by praying for them, and desiring good for them. We also exhort by encouraging or entreating them to do the right thing (to come to church or whatever the situation calls for). We can exhort and comfort one another and we must do this every chance we get. Love your neighbor as yourself.
We are exhorting them (and ourselves) against the hardening of the heart that comes from forgetting what God has done for us and by following sin rather than God. People begin to believe the lies, the deceitfulness, of sin. Temptations are actually bold faced lies for which we seem to "fold up" if we do not watch out for them and pray for God's help to turn away from them. Sin is deceitful. Sin is a liar. There is no joy in evil ways, the wages of sin is death. The longer we sin, the harder becomes our heart. Sin takes us farther and farther away from Christ.
Praise the Lord, we have been made "partakers of Christ!" We are made "partakers" of Christ by our faith in Him. We continue to be partakers by continuing to believe in Him -- We walk by faith, not by sight. We have become partakers of the blessings (Eternal Life) with which Christ has blessed the Earth. Don't sin. Stay close to Christ.
1John 5:10 NKJV ¶ He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
14 ¶ Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
The "beginning of our confidence" means the same joy, the same faith, the same purpose that we had and felt when we first put our confidence in the saving grace and the wonderful resurrection power of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is not easy for us to stay in that place where it is all fresh and new but it is easy for the Lord to bring us back to it. Trusting in Him will keep us new and steadfast.
How odd: If we trust Him, we remain steadfast. If we forget Him, we limit Him -- and by consequence, we have limited ourselves. Continuing to turn to Him in all things. at all times, will continue to keep you feeling close to Him. He is never more than a breath away, but we can lose the "feeling" of His presence by sin. He never leaves us, so when we get distracted by anything, and that means any thing, we can always humble ourselves before Him and He will give us "times of refreshing from the Lord."
We need to stay close to Christ because it is imperative that we continue to steadfastly hold on to our confidence in Him unto the last. This is the thing the Children of Israel in the wilderness did not do. They did not steadfastly continue to believe that God would keep His promises to them, which grieved and irritated God, especially after all He had done for them and all that He had shown them of Himself. They still forgot Him.
Today. If you wish to hear His voice, then soften your heart towards Him today. Do not harden your heart and follow the example of the rebellious, wicked, and self centered adults who insisted upon provoking God and doing things their own way.
There were some at that time who did tempt and provoke God -- but not all. In fact there were only two of the adults who did not, and they were Joshua and Caleb. God forgave the children and took them into His rest, but not the willful and rebellious parents. Let us be like Joshua and Caleb and trust that the Good Lord can do all Good things in our lives!! He can, you know!! He is Able!! He is All Powerful! He is the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth!! Praise the Lord!!
It was the sin of not trusting God, of attempting to take things into their own hands and return to the bondage from which He had just delivered them, that really upset God.
The carcases (bodies) that fell in the wilderness were of all those adults who had refused to go in earlier. God did not kill them off instantly because of Moses prayer for them, but he let them wander for forty years while all the old folks who had sinned passed away and only their children, plus Joshua and Caleb, actually crossed the Jordan river and entered into the Promised Land forty years later.
Minor or major, sin always comes from unbelief. Whether it is a small patch or a large patch, unbelief grows sin. If you have a sin that is hard for you to conquer, check out what it is that you think God cannot do in that patch. Then repent and change your mind!!
The thing that kept the Isrealites from entering the rest that had been promised to them (the Promised Land) was their own unbelief. They did not believe God would deliver them... again. Whether it is a moment of sin or a lifetime of sin, it is always "forgetting to believe in God" and to trust in Him and nurture your relationship with Him that keeps us from entering into our own Promised Land, which is the Kingdom of God, itself. That place where God is King!!
Jesus Christ has given us access to God, but it is based on belief in Him and in God, the Father. It is so simple and so obvious, but we can be so blind. If you feel the blindness or confusion creeping in, then immediately hit your knees and ask God to forgive you and to search your heart and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Ask Him to show you what is happening in your own heart -- we need that because our minds get cloudy and we become blinded to our own actions and motives. Somehow, we always think we are right. Our amazing God knows our hearts and, thankfully, He does forgive and does restore us.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 ¶ Let us therefore fear,
In our modern days people don't like to listen to the idea of "fearing God." They only want to remember the soft, loving, forgiving side of God and don't want to accept the idea of His Justice. God is All Mighty, All Powerful, and Sovereign and deserves our respect and our fear of His Ultimate Power, especially, when we do wrongly.
Thank God! He is also slow to anger. He gives us time to come to Him and set our lives right again with His help and intervention. We set our lives right by repentance and continuing to believe and trust in Him and His Goodness and His mercy, but, we need to remember His justice and His vengeance, too. Remember God.
We do not want to fall short of entering into His rest as they did. We will not fall short if we simply continue to believe and trust in Him for all things in our lives. Continue to walk with Him daily.
2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The gospel was preached in the Old Testament and in the New, but there are many examples of how some folks did not mix faith with their hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. What profit is there in the hearing of God's goodness and not believing it? That changes nothing in us. That is evidence of a hardened heart which leaves us to our own devices. We know the result of having no faith in God. Hearing the gospel is of great import, but believing it in our hearts, is of even more importance -- and absolutely necessary to salvation.
What more needs to be said? Jesus Christ has the power of death and of Hell in His hands. He captured them for us. He also has the power of eternal life in His hands. Keep your faith in Him. Let us do as Paul said of himself:
And he entered into His rest! Praise the Lord who keeps His promises!! Keep the faith you were given!! Keep it real. Keep it alive. Jesus Christ is The Living God. God the Father is The Living God. The Holy Spirit is The Living God. We are alive in Christ Jesus, our Lord!!
1 Corinthians 15:20 ¶ But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Praise the Lord!!